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Volume 437: debated on Thursday 8 May 1947

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Rent Tribunal Applicants (Protection)


Shepherd asked the Minister of Health if he has given consideration to the statement made by Mr. Michael Marcus, chairman of the East London Rent Tribunal, that applicants to that tribunal suffered serious physical injury at the hands of landlords or their hirelings; and what action is proposed to protect applicants.

My attention has been called to this statement. Applicants suffering or fearing such assaults should report the matter to the police who will do all they can to assist.

It is not competent for me at the moment to make any comment upon whether it is accurate or inaccurate. All I can say is, that these persons are protected by law if they appeal to the law.

Surely, if the Minister appoints these chairmen it is his duty to see that they do not issue statements which alarm the public?

In view of the serious nature of the statement made by the chairman of the tribunal, has the Minister asked him on what evidence he based that statement?

It is not necessary for me to do so. If citizens fear assault, or if they have been assaulted, they can make use of appeal to the law. I am not going to interfere with these tribunals unnecessarily.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether, since this statement, there have, in fact, been any such appeals from persons who claim that this statement is true?

1947 Programme


asked the Minister of Health if he has now considered the housing programme for 1947 in the light of the industrial dislocation caused by the fuel crisis; and what effect this is likely to have on the number of houses to be built.

I have considered the housing programme for 1947 in the light of the conditions which have prevailed during the winter. The effect of these conditions both on building and even more on the production of building materials has been serious. It will reduce substantially the rates at which houses already under construction can be completed and, consequently, at which further houses can be started this year. I am including a full statement in the published monthly return which will be available in the Vote Office this afternoon.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House, or give us some idea, what will be the total number of completions this year?

I think that probably it will be as well for hon. Members to look at this statement in the monthly return. I was in this difficulty; that if I were to try to make a statement to the House after Questions on this very important matter it would be unduly long; but that if, on the other hand, I were to try to give a short answer it would be inadequate. I thought it was much better to make an addendum to the monthly return.

Does the right hon. Gentleman now realise how wise he was when he published the original programme to provide himself with alibis?

In view of the results of the industrial dislocation, will the right hon. Gentleman consider alter- ing the targets at the zonal conferences which took place to fix the time, as the targets appear to have been fixed on a mathematical basis?

They were, in fact, not targets at all, as the hon. and gallant Member knows. They were merely attempts to bring the allocations in a zonal area in reasonable relationship to the physical capacity of the building industry in that area. The allocations are not going to be affected.

Prefabricated Houses (Export)


asked the Minister of Health how many prefabricated houses were exported to Holland during 1946; and what was the cost per house.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on 3rd April to a Question from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Col. Lipton), of which I am sending him a copy. am informed that there is no record of the export of any other structures of this nature.

Review Of Contributions


asked the Minister of Health if he has yet considered whether it is expedient that an order be made under Section 16 of the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1946; and whether he intends to lay before the Commons House of Parliament a report in conformity with the provisions of the said section.

I hope to be in a position to make a statement on this matter in the near future.

Does not the Minister realise that the Act in question places an obligation on him to take this matter into consideration immediately after the beginning of December, 1946, and if, on consideration, he is not going to make such an Order, to report thereon to the House? Does he not his agree that he is taking as long to make up his mind on this matter as he is in getting the houses?

I am perfectly aware of my statutory obligations in this matter and, of course, I shall conform with them. But as the housing authorities have handed over to the building industry about 100,000 more houses than the building industry can start, there is, obviously, no question at all of this delaying building.

Has the right hon. Gentleman carried out the consultations he must have under Subsection (6) of this Section? Will he give a report on that?

Building Licences


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that licences granted to private builders for building new houses are often issued to cover several houses each; that in a number of cases where such a licence was issued to a builder outside the London area before 25th February, one or more of the houses included in the licence had been begun before that date while others in the same licence had not been started; that the consequent effect of the Order permitting an increase of ££100 in the maximum price of houses licensed before 25th February is to make such concessions inapplicable to these houses not yet started, without any power for the local authority to vary the conditions in the licence; and whether he will modify the terms of the Order to rectify this anomaly.

It is open to a private builder to ask the local authority to revoke a licence in so far as it applies to houses on which work has not been started, and to apply for a new licence in respect of these houses under the revised conditions.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his own Ministry refused a request of the Cheltenham authority to take action in this matter?

I am not aware of the particulars. If the hon. Member will send them to me, I shall have them inquired into. But I cannot, at the moment, accept the construction he has placed upon this.



asked the Minister of Health what revision is contemplated in the basis of Annual Exchequer contributions as laid down in Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1946, in the light of the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Bill.

In considering the review of housing subsidy, all factors affecting the estimated cost of house building during the period for which subsidy is to be fixed are taken into consideration.

Is the Minister aware that if local authorities lose more by the reduction of subsidies than they gain by a reduction in the cost of sites this loss must be passed on in the form of increased rent, which is rather undesirable? Can he look very closely at this matter, as anomalies are very likely to arise?

I do not think local authorities are dissatisfied with the housing subsidy.

Is it not a fact that the cost of sites is a very small element in the cost of houses as a whole?

The Minister has misunderstood my question. My question referred to the position under the Town and Country Planning Bill, under which there will be a reduction in the cost of sites which, in turn, will affect scales of subsidies.

It is extremely difficult to say in advance what is going to be the effect of the operation of an Act of Parliament which is still a Bill. It will be soon enough to consider what the effect of that will be when we see it in operation.

Site Costs


asked the Minister of Health if site costs are included as part of the ceiling prices imposed on new houses, both in London and in the provinces.